Should I install an engine block heater?

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Oct 20, 2010
Central NJ
Hi all,
I recently bought a 71 from a fellow Mud member in Austin. It's now safely tucked away in my garage here in Jersey until salt is washed off the roads in a few months. This winter is proving to be bitter cold, with nighttime temps in single digits. I've only got a battery charger connected to the truck and I'm contemplating buying an engine block heater from SOR.

I am starting the truck and letting it warm up about once a week or so. Drove it around my salt-free driveway last week but that's it. I've only had it a few weeks now.

Couple questions:
- Would you install this on the truck if you were me? It's a stock F motor if that has any bearing.
- How difficult is the install to screw up? I'm a hobbyist and not a mechanic. I'm comfortable with bolt on stuff.

Wouldn't bother. As long as you have a quality motor oil that can deal with the low temps, you have a quality antifreeze and enough of it.... should be fine. Might wanna add some gas line antifreeze if you're going to drive it or some sta-bil if you're not. If I were you, I would run the ethanol gas out of it, fill it up with non-ethanol gas and leave it alone till the salt is gone. If it were me, none of this would be an issue, because I'd be driving it in the salt/snow.
There was very little gas in it when it arrived, which was good. I added fuel and Sta-Bil and ran it for 20 minutes or so after. Don't know what weight oil is in there but it starts right up and runs swimmingly.
I see no reason to install one. I used to store a 77 and an 80 FJ40 in an unheated garage during the cold winter months in NE Ohio. The 80 had a block heater that did make starting it way easier than the 77. I would only plug it in for 15 min prior to starting. If you daily drive it then it might be needed if not why bother. I now store the 80 in a garage that is heated to 50 during the winter and only start it twice during the winter. Better to run non-ethanol gas in it prior to storage if you can find it. I run a few tanks of non-ethanol in all my trucks prior to storage.
You'll be fine without one, as long as you have a good coolant mix. Good on you for keeping it garaged all winter and OUT of the damn road salt nonsense. Several seasons of that and your FJ40 won't be the same....
If you're really worried, just hang a drop light with and incandescent bulb in it under the hood. A 60w bulb will keep it from having issues just fine. Way cheaper than a block heater too.
What they said. If you were driving the 40 on a daily basis, then yes, a block heater would def help. Otherwise, don't bother.

I lived in PA back in the 80's and installed a water jacket heater for winter, as the head needed a valve job, bad and wouldn't start without the heat. I cut a small hole in the lower hose, installed the heater coil, and it worked for a number of seasons.

Only thing I'd add is to buy a Battery Tender for the battery, not a battery charger. I have one on my '40 and my bike. Might need another one for the Taco what with all this blasted cold.
I agree you really don't need one, but if you enjoy overkill as many of us do, you could plug in a Kat's magnetic heater for a bit before running it. I have one I used to plug in on my 80 every night (back when I drove it in the winter), and it just helped make the oil circulate quicker than normal. I am putting it on my winter beater 100 now just to show it some love.
Here's a screen shot, can't remember where I bought mine from.
It sticks on the oil pan
Thanks for the suggestions guys.

I don't know if there's any distilled water in the coolant. Haven't noticed any issues with starting, but I'll go out there later today and get it started just for peace of mind. I intend on "restoring" the truck, meaning, tinkering and cleaning it up, painting frame, painting floor, though it really doesn't need it.

Couple pics of the newly acquired 40. First one is when it was down in Austin. Second one is in my driveway.


50/50 coolant and water gives better protection than straight antifreeze.
Using only coolant or mix of water for radiator?

Don't waste money on pre mixed... and check for yourself that it covers your temperatures. The maximum cold protection is at 70%.
What do you think will happen to the engine sitting at temps of single digits? As others have pointed out, if you have good antifreeze in it it will be fine. The engine goes through a massive heat cycle everytime you run it, sitting even in single digits means nothing to it.

Only thing a block heater does is makes the engine warm up faster, and produce heat in the cab faster. It has a larger effect on an F engine, as they take far longer to warm up than a modern engine, but either way, within a mile or two of driving they are getting up to operating temp. The intake manifold warms quickly if the stock exhaust manifold is bolted to it still and should even out fuel delivery issues on a cold morning pretty quickly too.

Depending on the heater you are looking at, they can be a simple install or a pain. The type that goes in the radiator hose is easy, does not warm the block as well. The circulating types are really good, but take some extra plumbing to work right. The type that goes right in the block are the cleanest installs, but also the hardest and easiest to mess up. On that point, the factory Toyota block heaters designed to go in a freeze plug hole don't actually fit an F engine block, the lip on the block is shallower than the later 2F they are intended for. They work but it is not quite right. The aftermarket ones are lesser quality, but more of a one size fits all, like Stant, and may fit better.

They are really only needed if you drive it everyday and you want it start just a tad easier and warm up the heater faster. All trivial points in a 40, they are just freakin cold in the winter.

I have a block heater on my 40 still, only used it a couple of winters when I was daily driving it. Had one on my FJ60, factory Toyota heater and it failed during a hard pull of a stuck vehicle and let all the antifreeze out of the block, luckily I was only a half mile from home and got her back in the garage on cold January night. In most cases I have seen them leak and be a problem more than they helped, and really are only useful for a daily driver.

I've never had any troubles getting a cruiser to start anywhere above about 20 to 25F below zero. Below that, well its cold and you may not get er done. Anything around 0F should be fine as long as you are not running pure tar for engine oil. The 90 weight gear oil in all the driveline cases becomes the next issue, but also warms quickly after driving away slowly.

One very cold morning, -35F and no block heaters plugged in on anything, my FJ40 was the only vehicle that would start for us. My wife had a 1990 Mercury Topaz (Ford Tempo) with multiport fuel injection. It would not fire, not until lunch time when it had gotten to about -10 did that car even tire to sputter and fire. Used a glue on oil pan heater on that car from then on. The other cure was a pot of hot water over the manifold, would allow atomization to occur and it would try to start. Did that to the 40 also to help it kick over, it worked, but all the carb linkage froze solid, had to break it all loose.
You probably already know this, but if you are going to run it, make sure it is long enough to warm up well (open thermostat) and heat the exhaust up enough to dry out any condensation.

Sweet 40 btw, congratulations

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